19 – Coming of Age

Grade: B-

Coming of Age (1988) on IMDb


The Enterprise has traveled to a planet where Wesley Crusher will take an entrance exam to enter Starfleet Academy. Meanwhile, Commander Remmick of the Inspector General’s office has been assigned to find out what is wrong with the crew on the Enterprise.


This is without question the very best episode of the first season, and in fact, there won’t be a better episode until #35, Measure of a Man. There has been some obvious improvement in the acting, the script, and the directing. In my opinion, this is the first time we see what this new series is capable of accomplishing. It’s too bad they didn’t reach this level sooner.

I rated it a B- because the episode itself isn’t too memorable. Most people will remember this as the episode when Wesley took the entrance exam, but they forget the rest of the episode, which in my opinion is the best part. This is also the first time a Starfleet officer wonders about the competency of the Captain and the Enterprise itself. There’s another episode at the end of this season, called Conspiracy, and yet a third called Drumhead when Jean Simmons guest stars as a Starfleet officer who investigates a supposed conspiracy on the ship. That one is a bit better than this one, in my opinion, because Simmons is a much better actor than the man who plays Remmick in this one.

One of the best scenes in this episode is the one on the holodeck between Wesley Crusher and Worf. It is well-written and well-acted. Michael Dorn does a great job discussing facing one’s fears from a Klingon’s perspective. I only wish this scene could have lasted longer. Other great scenes are Remmick’s interrogations of Data, Worf, and Dr. Crusher. I also loved how Captain Picard responds to Remmick’s statement that he would like to serve on the Enterprise when his current position expires. Patrick Stewart really pulls it off well in this scene. It was also very interesting to see the scene with Wesley, facing his biggest fears.

The ending of this one is a bit different. I did not expect the Commanding officer from Starfleet to offer a position to Captain Picard. Of course, I knew he would not accept it. In TV shows like this, the drama is often manufactured instead of organic. In other words, there never was a sense that Picard would leave the Enterprise, no matter how much they built it up in this episode. So it loses much of the potential impact. Compare this episode to Skin of Evil, where nobody expected the final outcome.

Of Note

One of the characters on the Enterprise takes a shuttle off the ship, and before he reaches the planet, he’s out of transporter range. How can this be possible? Can’t they transport onto the planet? So why not onto a shuttle craft before it hits the atmosphere?

The officer administering the exam says that Mordock will be the first Benzite in Starfleet. But then earlier in this same episode, Wesley refers to another Benzite with the same name who is also in Starfleet. Also, there’s another Benzite who appears in a future episode. So how could Mordock be the first one when it appears two others have preceded him?

Also, one of the students taking the entrance exam with Wesley Crusher says, “It’s a good thing you’re cute, or you’d really be obnoxious.”